JR Test Site News for 01-24-2018


Enlightenment STUDY GUIDE FOR THE. ENLIGHTENMENT. The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was the dominant intellectual movement of the eighteenth century. While the makers of the Scientific Revolution had used their intellectual powers to discover the natural laws that governed the operation of the physical universe, the thinkers of the Enlightenment sought through reasoning to discover the natural laws that governed the affairs of human beings and human society. While the Enlightenment was a broad international movement, many of its leading thinkers were French. The Enlightenment thinkers are known collectively as philosophes, the French word for philosophers. Once these natural laws were discovered, the institutions of society could be reformed to bring them more in accord-ance with the natural order. In brief, the philosophes were social critics, mainly French, but not exclusively so, who subjected human behavior and social institutions to the critical test of reason. While some monarchs did in fact promote reforms designed to make their governments more efficient, even the most enlightened ruler could not contemplate, much less enact, any reforms that would serve to undermine his absolute authority. The Social Contract, Rousseau’s treatise on politics and government, opens with the words: “All men are born free, but everywhere they are in chains.” Although government restricted individual freedom, it was nevertheless a necessary evil. In an effort to promote this reconciliation, Rousseau advocated a radical form of the contract theory of government. Rejecting the extreme individualism emphasized by many of his fellow philosophes, Rousseau stressed the role of the individual as a member of society. Although Rousseau never made it clear how the general will would operate in actual practice, he believed that all members of society would participate in the formulation of the general will, which would then be executed by a small group. Virtually all of the important French philosophes, including Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu, were among the some 160 contributers to the Encyclopedia, edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert.

Keywords: [“Rousseau”,”government”,”society”]
Source: http://thecaveonline.com/APEH/revueenlightenment.html

The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Right-wing politics hold that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics or tradition. Hierarchy and inequality may be viewed as natural results of traditional social differences or the competition in market economies. The term right-wing can generally refer to “The conservative or reactionary section of a political party or system”. The political terms “Left” and “Right” were first used during the French Revolution and referred to seating arrangements in the French parliament: those who sat to the right of the chair of the parliamentary president were broadly supportive of the institutions of the monarchist Old Regime. The original Right in France was formed as a reaction against the “Left” and comprised those politicians supporting hierarchy, tradition and clericalism. The use of the expression la droite became prominent in France after the restoration of the monarchy in 1815, when it was applied to the Ultra-royalists. The people of English-speaking countries did not apply the terms “Right” and “Left” to their own politics until the 20th century. Although the right-wing originated with traditional conservatives, monarchists and reactionaries, the term extreme right-wing has also been applied to movements including fascists, Nazis and racial supremacists. From the 1830s to the 1880s, there was a shift in the Western world of social class structure and the economy, moving away from nobility and aristocracy towards capitalism. This general economic shift toward capitalism affected centre-right movements such as the British Conservative Party, which responded by becoming supportive of capitalism. In the United States, the Right includes both economic and social conservatives. In Europe, economic conservatives are usually considered liberal and the Right includes nationalists, nativist opposition to immigration, religious conservatives and historically a significant presence of right-wing movements with anti-capitalist sentiments including conservatives and fascists who opposed what they saw as the selfishness and excessive materialism inherent in contemporary capitalism.

Keywords: [“conservative”,”Right”,”Right-wing”]
Source: http://www.artandpopularculture.com/Political_(far)_right

Unit 1: The Origins of Capitalism

As well as providing an insight into how capitalism came about, and an indication of how it works, this unit looks at the nature of historical change. The concept of a waged worker signalled a crucial stage in the development of capitalism. The aim of all this brutal legislation was to turn the dispossessed into a disciplined obedient class of wage workers who, for a pittance, would offer up their labour to the new capitalism. During the 18th Century, a primitive form of manufacturing developed, which differed from cottage production in that workers did not work from home, but rather from single premises, or factory, owned by the capitalist. Further, as the factory system developed, it soon became clear that it gave capitalism much greater control over the workforce, establishing tighter organisation of work and workers and thus higher productivity. Workers had to work a specific number of hours under the direct supervision of the capitalist, who owned the more specialised tools. The now-familiar pattern of economic success being measured by which country or capitalist can extract the most profit from the workers under their control has its origins in the transition of Britain from a feudal society. We will see in the next Unit, that the coming of capitalism has, somewhat paradoxically, also brought with it the potential for workers to organise for change. In the new system, workers did not work from home but from a premises owned by the capitalist. The main effects were to lengthen the working day, and the number of days spent in work, to create a new class of ‘overseer’ separate from the majority of the workers, and sweep away guild regulation. Workers became totally dependant on their ability to sell their labour and the working class emerged as a category of people who were separated from even limited control of the means of production. Some discussion points In which ways can studying the early history of capitalism in Britain help us to understand the present-day working of capitalism? What have you learned about the nature of history as it is generally offered during the course of studying this unit? Was the development of capitalism inevitable? Further Reading.

Keywords: [“work”,”capitalism”,”production”]
Source: http://www.solfed.org.uk/a-s-history/unit-1-the-origins-of-capitalism

JR Test Site News for 01-21-2018

SparkNotes: The Enlightenment: The English Enlightenment

Key People Thomas Hobbes – Pessimistic English political philosopher; argued that man in his natural state is selfish and savage and therefore a single absolute ruler is the best form of government John Locke – Optimistic English political philosopher; argued for man’s essentially good nature; advocated representative government as an ideal form The English Civil War. Seventeenth-century England endured a pair of tense struggles for political power that had a profound impact on the philosophers of the English Enlightenment. The first power struggle came in 1649., when the English Civil War resulted in the execution of King Charles I and the establishment of a commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell. The reestablished monarchy had clear limits placed on its absolute power as was made clear in the bloodless Glorious Revolution of 1688., in which the English people overthrew a king they deemed unacceptable and basically chose their next rulers. The English people rallied behind James II’s Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, who led a nonviolent coup that dethroned James II and sent him to France. In the years that followed, an English Bill of Rights was drafted, boosting parliamentary power and personal liberties. The first major figure in the English Enlightenment was the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who began his career as a tutor but branched out to philosophy around the age of thirty. In 1640, fearing that some of his writings had angered England’s parliament, Hobbes fled to Paris, where he penned a substantial body of his work. In Leviathan, Hobbes elaborates on the nature of man and justifies absolutist rule. Hobbes also claims that any group of men who ascend to positions of great power will be prone to abusing it, seeking more power than necessary for the stability of society. An atheist, Hobbes long argued that religion is useful as a propaganda machine for the state, as it is the entity most capable of reminding the ignorant masses of their role and their duties. The rules Hobbes sets forth as to precisely when a citizen may transfer allegiance to a new sovereign are unclear. The greatest criticism of Hobbes focuses on his failure to describe how totally selfish men would be able to create and maintain the covenant of the state. Hobbes avoids the errors inherent in assuming that all human beings are inherently virtuous, but he is hard-pressed to explain how humans would behave in the manner he describes if they are inherently stupid. Hobbes represents the pessimistic side of the Enlightenment and sees progress as the result of the suppression of man’s instincts rather than the granting of freedom to those instincts.

Keywords: [“Hobbes”,”power”,”English”]
Source: http://www.sparknotes.com/history/european/enlightenment/section2.rhtml

The Marxist-Leninist Theory of History

Marx’s own system contains a feature that can only be understood as reflecting the reality of capital. There is already a name for such a scale of value: It is the value of capital, including human capital. Pyramid building is labor intensive production, while automobile building is capital intensive production. Capital intensive production requires skills and knowledge, whose fruits may be effected by the industrial workers, but which may only be conceived and held systematically in the consciousness of the industralist, i.e. the Henry Ford. Even the level of capital development represented by pyramid building, whose products remain marvels of human achievement, is historically credited to one genius, the semi-divine III Dynasty architect Imhotep,. Marx’s denial of the existence and necessity of capital means that his own theory is incoherent, since it denies but does actually contain a scale of value, which we can now recognize as that of capital, to explain improved modes of production, increased productivity, and more technologically and aesthetically sophisticated products. In the end, as the workers were impoverished and the number of capitalists dwindled, the capitalists would end up with no one to sell their goods to and nothing to do with the capital derived from their profits. Labor intensive production gives way to capital intensive production, and greater capital means great productivity, not just in quantity, but in kind. Since British industry was largely involved in building railroads in Marx’s day, he seems to have actually believed that, once the railroads were built, there would be nothing for that workforce, or its capital, to do. Simply a different way of doing things represents new knowledge and new capital. The value of capital can simply evaporate in misconceived investments. Marx’s thesis of the fictional nature of capital is thus equivalent to his lack of imagination regarding what it would be possible for people to do with their capital. No. Since Marx was the kind of person who would never know what to do with capital, he did not believe there was anything to do with it. With surviving employed labor concentrated in large corporate entities, and the capitalists left with nothing to do with their capital and few consumers with the means to purchase capitalist production, the revolution would more or less happen of itself when the system collapsed in a panic of banks and investors. Although nominal wages were falling in the United States from 1865-1897, apparently in line with Marxist expectations, real wages were actually rising, and there didn’t seem to be a problem with over-production or with capital investment.

Keywords: [“Capital”,”Marx”,”production”]
Source: http://friesian.com/marx.htm

JR Test Site News for 01-18-2018

The first of the trademark demands of those in power is the elimination of the public sphere, the privatization of the government – handing over formerly government functions to the private sector, which performs these functions in ways that transfer wealth from the majority to the few. Examples: lowering corporate taxes, weakening OSHA, fostering globalization, NAFTA, the Bush Administration’s refusal to enforce environmental laws, eliminating government protection of labor unions, no effort by government to protect local industries or local ownership, corporate freedom to sell their products anywhere in the world, with all prices, including labor, determined by the market, no minimum wage, flooding of Third World with cheaply produced US agricultural products, driving local farmers out of business. Today’s multinationals see government programs, public assets and everything else that is not for sale as terrain to be conquered and seized – the post office, national parks, schools, social security, disaster relief and anything else that is publicly administered. A more accurate term for a system that erases the boundaries between Big Government and Big Business is not liberal, conservative or capitalist, but corporatist. After arriving as Iraq’s governor, Paul Bremer, who, in effect, was the government and answered to no one, received trade and investment decrees from the Department of Defense and imposed them by fiat: The immediate privatization of the 200 state-owned firms that produced the staples of the Iraqi diet and the raw materials of its industry. Every government function was handed over to private contractors. The Bush Administration immediately pushed ahead by helping to draft a radical new oil law for Iraq, which would allow companies like Shell and BP to sign thirty- year contracts in which they could keep a large share of Iraq’s oil profits – hundreds of billions of dollars – and a sentence to perpetuate poverty in a country where 95% of government revenues come from oil. The ultimate goal for the corporations at the center of the complex is to bring the model of for-profit government, which advances so rapidly in extraordinary circumstances, into the ordinary day-to-day functioning of the state – in effect, to privatize the government. To kick-start the disaster-capitalism complex, the Bush Administration outsourced, with no public debate, many of the most sensitive and core functions of government – from providing health care to soldiers, to interrogating prisoners, to gathering and data-mining information on all of us. As in Iraq, the government once again played the role of a cash machine equipped for both withdrawals and deposits. Earlier, the Clinton Administration, as well as state and local governments, had successfully sold off or outsourced large, publicly-owned companies in several sectors, from water and electricity to highway management and garbage collection. Now, the US government set out to break the taboos protecting the ‘core’ from privatization. The US government is barreling toward an economic crisis, at which point the contracts are going to dip significantly. At another time, the Fund ‘invented, literally out of the blue’ huge unpaid government debts. Latin America’s most significant protection from future shocks flows from the continent’s emerging independence from Washington’s financial institutions, the result of greater integration among regional governments.

Keywords: [“government”,”Iraq”,”shock”]
Source: http://www.secondenlightenment.org/riseofdisastercapitalism.pdf

The rise of capitalism

I tried to take up some of these narrow issues in an article I wrote some dozen years ago.6 One of the things I stressed was that concentrating, as much of the debate did, on why Britain moved towards capitalism before France, or western Europe before eastern Europe, can obscure the most obvious thing-that right across much of Europe there was the rise of a new form of production and exploitation standing in partial contradiction to the old form from at least the 14th century onwards. Capitalism did not arise because of some unique European occurrence, but as a product of the development of the forces and relations of production on a global scale. One precondition for the emergence of true capitalism, as Marx showed, was the separation of the immediate producers from the means of production, which passed into the hands of the new exploiting class. Without such a separation of the workforce from the means of production the spread of production for the market could lead, not to capitalism, but to a new variant of serfdom, the so called ‘second serfdom’ of eastern and southern Europe, or to the encomienda system in Latin America. The output of production in these regions was directed towards world markets, but the internal dynamic was very different to that of capitalism, with its drive to competitive accumulation. Slavery, serfdom, free labour and exploitation Separating the producers from the means of production was not by itself sufficient to bring about the development of capitalism. Changes in the forces of production encouraged changes in the relations of production. In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production; and in changing their mode of production, in changing the way of earning their living, they change all their social relations. For capitalism to arise, there had not only to be separation of the immediate producers from control over the means of production, but also new ways of producing that would give the exploiters a bigger surplus when operated by ‘free’ waged labour rather than by slave or serf labour. The development of productive capitalism depended on such developments in the forces of production. Production in the countryside was still dominated by old landed classes and in the cities by petty artisans, leaving little possibility for productive capitalism to emerge. The weakness of the European superstructure itself had a cause-the relatively backward character of north western Europe in the first millennium AD. The lower level of development of the forces of production meant that the superstructure was much less developed in the 10th century than in China or the Middle East. The sheer costs of the sustaining the luxury consumption of the ruling class and an increasingly elaborate superstructure prevented further advances in food production, giving rise to famines, plagues and discontent among all the lower layers of society. The controversy over the ‘Asiatic mode of production’ Marx argued at certain points that what existed in India was an example of an ‘Asiatic mode of production’ different to the feudalism of western Europe.

Keywords: [“production”,”Europe”,”century”]
Source: http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/isj102/harman.htm